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Everyone is fighting for a place at the table. There was a time when we had no chance and we would sit off in a corner, twiddling our radio buttons. But those times are changing.
The success of a program of institutionalization of usability does not hinge on brilliant design. You need brilliant design, but it is hardly the critical thing. It does not hinge on methods, and standards, and templates. It does not hinge on staffing or even knowledge management. All that is important. But the main thing is a seat at the table.
Every organization has an executive team that determines what is important. They allocate budget. They also allocate corporate attention. The money is divided based on their perception. But also the precious commodity of the organization's ability to manage change is divided up.
The executive team sits at a table with a set of stakeholders. Some, like information technology have a long established seat. Marketing has a seat. Even Quality has a seat. But can we sit there? Can we help guide the future of the organization? Well, the answer now is "YES WE CAN".
I have institutionalization of usability clients in India, Australia, The Philippines, and Africa. These are places you might think would lag behind. But, NO. The executives all get it. They understand that usability and customer-centricity in design of their applications is a critical differentiator. The executives understand that user experience matters!
The challenge is that the table is a zero sum game. When we sit down we take a share of the resources and that means less for others. In that, we have a challenge. How can we gain acceptance from marketing, technology, strategy, etc? I spent all of last week at such a table, and I will share the winning strategy.
The insight that won the day for the UX side was a simple idea. The fact that UX design had been
absent meant that 'THE Executive', Strategic Marketing, and Strategic Initiative groups were all DISEMPOWERED! Their ideas never reached the design and coding group because they could convey their ideas (e.g., "We need to reach out to youth, changing our brand and fitting in their lives"). But, the design team had no idea what that really meant. It is only when the UX work takes the strategic intent and converts it into innovative ideas and specific designs that the connection can be made. UX is the 'golden chain' that connects the strategist's work with the coders. So, there are a whole set of people who we make effective. And when you make others effective, they want you at the table.
When I started working with Institutionalization clients, I thought what was needed was an executive champion. I wrote about executive champions and myexperience was that there is usually someone at a high level who drives each effort. To an extent, this is still true. But, I find that in large organizations there must often be a whole SET of champions. It is not just the individual executive on her throne. It is a table full of leaders.
When we work on programs to institutionalize usability we pay attention to governance. Without a
seat at the table all the efforts will eventually fail.